The Winter of our Discontent

To most of the world, success is never bad. When Hitler moved unchecked and triumphant, many honorable men sought and found virtues in him. And Mussolini made the trains run on time, and Vichy collaborated for the good of France, and whatever else Stalin was, he was strong.

Strength and success – they are above morality, above criticism. It seems then, that it is not what you do, but how you do it and what you call it.

Is there a check in men, deep in them, that stops or punishes? There doesn’t seem to be. The only punishment is for failure.

In effect no crime is committed unless a criminal is caught ~~ some men get hurt, some even destroyed, but this in no way deters the movement.

John Steinbeck, The Winter of our Discontent, 1961

How to Spot a Trump Bot

UPDATE 1/11/21: Since the initial publication of this article, Facebook and Twitter have suspended Donald Trump’s account(s), and also implemented a system-wide purge of bot accounts (something done regularly anyway). The deletion of literally thousands of these bot (fake) accounts has resulted a huge net loss of followers for many GOP representatives’ accounts.

Donald Trump’s profile and incendiary rhetoric have been pulled from FB and Twitter. But, his Bots are out in force.

Bot farms are notoriously housed in Russia, India, China but not exclusively. Alt-Right organizations, like the Epoch Times (underwritten by TrumpPac), use bots to promote Trump’s insurrectionist agenda.

What is a Bot? Bots are programs that run automated tasks. However, that does not mean that Bots operate completely autonomously. They do not.

Bots require human interaction, and they all require fake profiles.

We have come to recognize the work of bots in marketing posts, such as Amazon product reviews, vacation rental recommendations, Glassdoor company ratings, and other consumer forums. But Trump and his Russian bots have created a propaganda machine whose wack-a-mole structure will be difficult to contain. As soon as you get rid of one, another will pop up.

Bots make it appear that Trump is more popular, and make it appear his views are more widely-shared and widely- supported than they truly are.

How It Works

  • Bot farms (which can be only a few people) set-up hundreds of individual fake profiles* (using stolen photos, fake names).
    • Fake profiles send out hundreds of friend requests. Men get requests from hot chicks; women from Central Casting hunks.
    • If you accept the request, the bot will request connections with your friends.
  • Bots continue to build their “friends” to 100 or so connections – just enough to stay under the radar – using them as a first-line propaganda distribution system.

Then, the AI Part

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) uses key words and images to identify News feeds and other postings critical of the “client.”
  • Upon publication of any article containing these key words, Bots add a generic pro-client comment to the thread. (ex: Donald J. Trump is true Christian and the greatest President!!).
  • Other Bots immediately swarm to “like” the comment, thereby promoting it to the top of the thread.
  • FB, Twitter postings are programmed to display the most popular comment at the top of the thread.
  • Real people see the article, and the (only displayed) comment in their feed. They respond, thereby adding to the comment’s popularity.
  • The site’s algorithm ensures the comment remains at the top of the thread because of its popularity.
  • Divisiveness and insurrection ensue.

How to Spot a Trump Bot

The Out-of-Context Comment

If a News article implies criticism of Trump, his agenda, or his supporters:

  • Top comment includes terms like “liberal media” or “radical socialists.” Other clues: Comment includes terms that pander to his base, “I pray for our Christian President,” “Trump is a champion of the Unborn!” or apocalyptic statements that hit all the buzz words: “Alt-Right Antifa is turning this country into socialist Venezuala (sic).”
  • Comment does not reflect any information contained in the article.
  • Comment has HUNDREDs of likes (despite the article being published only minutes ago).
  • Comment’s replies refute the bot’s statement; however, the bot never, ever responds to any reply.

The *Fake Profile

How can you tell?

  • Trump bots choose pictures of (generally) young men or Getty Image, Central Casting hunks. They are often military. If not, they drift toward middle-aged Cracker-types with questionable facial hair, often shown with groups hunting or carrying firearms or drinking Bud. Women are mostly blonde and “midwestern” types. Never black, brown, or in anyway an ethic or religious minority.
  • Contains little to no “About” information. Person is often “self-employed” or single. No work, group, or location information. No children.
  • Joined FB within the last four years. Many joined in 2020.
  • Photos appear blurry (because they’re often stolen via a screen shot). Group photos contain no captions or locations.
  • Feed contains primarily “shares” of links to conspiracy sites, posts focus on negative memes attacking “liberal” media, Democrats, and (of course) Hillary.

What You Can Do About It

  • Tag the bot, and then add a comment in the thread stating that bot profile is fake.
  • Report the profile as fake (use the More ellipse (…) that displays on the profile page).
  • Don’t feed trolls. When you do, it only elevates their comments. Best to Like comments you agree with, and add your additional agreement. In that way, the popularity of the post to its readers is elevated.
  • Don’t accept random friend requests – in any social media – unless you feel confident the person is NOT a fake profile.
  • Block any profile you suspect of being fake to ensure that it cannot use your friends or messaging.

The Good News

Bots only work when they’re getting paid, or there’s something in it for them. Trump is out of money, out of power, out of friends who will lend him money. Now that the money is going away, so too will Trump’s on-line “supporter” bots.

+++

Copyright 2021 Pierce/Wharton Research, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this post shall be reproduced without permission.

How to REALLY Keep your Exercise Resolution

I’m a regular power-walker. Out-the-door before 7, back before 8. I do about two and a half miles each day – half flat, half hills. More on weekends if it’s cloudy. I allow myself one day a week to skip my AM walk. Usually Friday; never Monday. I started in my 40’s, and have kept it up for more than a decade.

Here’s what I’ve learned about exercise…

It MUST be a Morning Routine

Exercise is not about discipline, not about strength, not about willpower. Exercise is about routine. Change yours to include 30 minutes of walking in the morning. The routine will change your life.

“I’m NOT a morning person…” (Already with the excuses?) No one is asking you to host a TV talk show. You don’t need to be “on.” You need to get your ass out of bed.

Mornings are the only time you truly have control over your day. Once your day starts, you will be overcome by events. You’ll go after work? Liar. You can do more exercise after work should you choose (and eventually you will, like I did with my yoga practice), but as a minimum, you must commit to a routine of regular AM walks.

No One is “Motivated”

I hear this all the time, and it irritates the hell out of me. “I’m just not motivated to exercise….” What is it about Americans that we feel entitled to be “motivated” before we do anything? I’m completely unmotivated to clean the bathroom, empty the dishwasher, paint the house trim, or pick up dog poop. I also have zero motivation to be at work on time, but I do it anyway.

Anyone who sticks with an exercise routine has accepted that they will never feel motivated to do it. Ten plus years, I still don’t feel any more motivation than I did day one. Is it easier? Yes. Do I enjoy it? No. I tolerate it. There’s no joy; it’s not fun. As a grown-up, you need to accept that not everything you do in life is enjoyable. I accept that exercise is an unpleasant chore, and it’s a chore that only I can do. If I could hire someone to do it for me, I would.

Think of your AM power walks like the bus. No one is motivated to take the bus. But, if the bus is the only way to get to work, and your choices are 1) take the bus or 2) live under a bridge, you’ll change your schedule, and find a way to take the bus.

Forget an Exercise “Buddy”

Another piece of worthless advice given annually by skinny bitches on talk TV. You want a buddy? Get a dog. You and your chubby friends are NOT good motivators for each other (see above). What is more likely to happen is that you will talk each other out of going, or worse, talk each other into indulging your mutual bad habits (“Sandy was late, and I just wasn’t motived, so we went to Starbucks ….”)

It’s difficult enough to keep your own routine. If you attempt to intertwine it daily with another adult, you will fail. Focus on your time, your schedule, your needs. If you truly want a buddy, hire a trainer. They’re always happy to take your money, whether you show up or not.

Don’t Waste Time Looking Good

Every January, I see a big increase in the number of people on the trails, in the gym, and at the studio. When I attempt to predict who will still be there in March, my first cut are the ones who are dressed well.

People with real exercise routines aren’t interested in looking good (see: lack of motivation); they’ve expended all their energy just getting there. They’re dressed in shitty sweats, ripped tee shirts. Myself included. I roll out of bed, use the bathroom, and immediately put on the shorts, tee shirt, socks, and the hoodie I laid out the night before. Sneakers, ponytail, hook up the dog, and out the door. No makeup. No teeth brushing. No coffee. No cell phone. No internal bargaining. No distractions. No excuses.

The folks you see out at 6 am look just as shitty as you do, and they’re not interested in chatting. They’re tired, grumpy, and want to get it done so they can start their day.

Don’t Bring Anything with You

Poop bags are attached to the leash. No cell phone, no keys. Water? Plu-eeze! You’re not going to dehydrate in 30-60 minutes. Coffee, nope. Have it when you get back.

Why take nothing? Because it’s distracting. If I take my phone, I’m checking every single beep. If I turn off the beeps, I’m checking anyway. If something comes in, I’m tempted to respond. Keys? Don’t need ’em. Why take the chance of losing them? Water, coffee? I don’t want to carry anything.

Anything you take with you is a distraction. The longer you’re distracted, the longer it takes. Don’t dawdle. Get it done.

++++

Now the good news: Once your routine is established (which takes about two weeks, couple months to seal it in), exercise will become easier. Easier is not enjoyable, however, easier is just a less painful. Other good news: As your body becomes more fit, it calls you toward foods that are less detrimental to your health. It will also call you toward longer walks, and bigger hills. This is about a lifestyle, not a goal. Honor your body, not your ego.

Most importantly, be mindful of negative self-talk. Replace “I’m so fat, and out of shape,” with “I’m out here doing it, not just talking about it.” Replace “I’ll never be able to climb that hill,” with “I’ll take the hill little-by-little, and stop whenever I want to catch my breath. It’s not a competition.” And, finally, replace “I can’t wait until I’m thin, and I don’t have to do this anymore,” with “I’m committed to a lifetime of health, and I start every day renewing that commitment.”

Happy Wandering!

Copyright 2021 Pierce/Wharton Research, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this post shall be reproduced without permission.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑